The Bitter Truth
2021 • ALTERNATIVE/ROCK • BMG
Evanescence’s first album with new songs in almost a decade doesn’t sound new at all.
Almost two decades ago, Evanescence emerged with its hard rock sound, being crowned the saving band of the goths in the early 2000s. Their debut, Fallen, which in addition to selling millions of copies, carries one of the most iconic covers of the beginning of the new century. However, the band founded by Amy Lee in 1995 spent more time in recent years working on the material it already had than actually releasing new songs. It’s been almost a decade since the album with brand new material was released. Since then, many things have changed. For example, Lee is the only member of the original lineup that is still active. Their long hiatus make the band seem much more a utopian and fictional idea than something specifically concrete.
The Bitter Truth is Evanescence’s fifth studio album. It is the band’s first record since 2017’s Synthesis and the first album with new tracks since their 2011’s self-titled. However, the album looks anything but new. Defined by Lee as a return to their roots — when did they actually leave the roots behind? —, the album is a set of boring, monotonous songs without personalities that seem to come straight from the early 2000s. Putting together loud and cluttered guitars with badly mixed drums and basses, The Bitter Truth features the most mediocre and uninteresting songs by the American band to date, being just a mix of tracks that would please emos in the 2000s, that would go into horror and romance movies and that would make teenagers feel different and alternative. In other words, Evanescence has never sounded as amateur and helpless as it does here.
The album starts off really well with two great tracks. The opener, “Artifact/The Turn,” features atmospheric synthesizers and transforms Lee’s voice into a kind of electronic spiritual entity. Despite the simple lyrics that show the singer lost in space and time, the track has an excellent progression, which grows and transits perfectly to the second song of the album, “Broken Pieces Shine,” where we find something more violent, like dense and loud strings and drums. In this one, she takes a closer look at the state of mental confusion at what she is in and says to herself that everything is going to be okay. Both of these tracks are very well produced, bold and ambitious, but they are the only ones on the album.
After that great start, The Bitter Truth falls into an inevitable slump and the album just keeps getting more and more boring and more and more uninteresting. “The Game Is Over” is one of the worst on the album, with Lee singing, with a generic composition, about how we live by appearances, in front of a totally usual, dull, and poorly mixed instrumental. Unfortunately, this is something very recurring on the record, with several songs being simply difficult to digest. “Far from Heaven” sounds good but its length has made it seem extremely drag and boring, while the last two, “Part of Me” and “Blind Belief,” are incredibly forgettable and boring. While “Use My Voice” seems like a strange mix between a song that would be used in Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland with an arena rock hook, “Feeding the Dark” seems to come out of some horror movie.
However, the thing that hurts the most about The Bitter Truth is the fact that some songs really did have potential but this was just thrown away. Look at “Yeah Right” and “Take Cover” which have their beginnings influenced by experimental and electronic rock. Indeed, it could have been an interesting combination, but when we got to the chorus we went back to the most generic and boring teen rock possible. This is probably due to Lee’s voice, which still seems committed to sounding challenging, mysterious, rebellious, and poisonous when it doesn’t work anymore. Lastly, we can quote “Wasted on You,” which, with influences from Perfume Genius, managed to be the coolest in the middle of the others, and “Better Without You,” which has the best lyrics to the album. In summary, The Bitter Truth is a set of boring songs that get even worse because they seem lost in time.